Spider-Man: No Way Home had its own Christmas present this year when it crossed the $1 billion club over the holidays. The film has been an unprecedented success, especially in pandemic times like these. The threequel brought back many prior faces to the MCU Spider-Man franchise, not to mention having high Multiversal and personal stakes that Peter Parker faces.
Among the biggest of these stakes is Peter Parker dealing with his high school bully realizing his idol in life is the same kid he actively makes fun of. This is where a fun yet notable reference comes into play.
In the wake of Peter Parker’s reveal, Tony Revolori’s Flash Thompson tried to save face by claiming to have been best friends with Spidey for years—something he flaunts via his new book.
This rewrite of history actually ends up being a fun reference to one of DC’s most famous events: Flashpoint Paradox.
The Flashpoint Paradox in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
In Flashpoint Paradox from DC Comics, Barry Allen aka The Flash wakes up to learn that he’s somehow in a different timeline without his power. Here, Bruce Wayne’s father is Batman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman are at war, Captain Cold is hero number one, and Superman is a lab rat.
While the Scarlet Speedster initially believes Reverse-Flash to be the cause of it all, he learns, to his dismay, that it’s all his fault. He had gone back in time to save his mother from dying, and in doing so, created this new timeline—where things were definitely wrong.
Barry is eventually able to fix everything, but the new timeline he creates ends up being slightly different than before, meaning DC Comics used the event as a way to do a soft reboot of its comic timeline. This is a trend fans may already be familiar with, thanks to Crisis on Infinite Earths.
The Similarities Between Universes
Flashpoint and No Way Home aren’t overly similar, with their key similarities being their interactions with the Multiverse. Both Barry Allen and Peter Parker attempt to change their fates in the timeline, but after that, the stories diverge in vastly different ways.
The Flash is stuck in a completely new timeline, and Peter ends up in the same one he was trying to change—but other universes are the ones that end up wrapped up in his own. So while Barry needs to erase the timeline he ends up in, Peter needs to untangle an ever-growing Multiversal bunch of wires.
The conclusions that the two have also mirror each other in a way. Barry Allen successfully fixes his predicament and wakes up rested in what ends up being basically the same timeline he originally came from.
Peter gets his own reset but not in the same happy-ending type of way. His original universe forgets he’s Spider-Man, but everything else remains roughly the same—except the superhero suffers the ultimate loss as nobody remembers who he is; this is arguably the most intense loneliness one could ever possibly suffer.
The Multiverse Future
Flash Thompson's book in No Way Home is a small Easter Egg that isn’t much more than a fun nod to Marvel’s comic cousin—but there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.
With that reference, it's hard not to wonder if Marvel Studios ever planned to mess with its timeline even more—like letting Strange actually change time as original suggested
Even with how everything played out, there’s plenty that storytellers will need to explain when it comes to the logistics of Peter’s new circumstances. How do people make up for those gaps in their memories? What about his former Avenger teammates? Captain Marvel only just met him, after all.
When it comes to Flashpoint, the story is set to be the foundation of Andy Muschietti’s upcoming film, The Flash. The film stars Ezra Miller as Barry Allen, and from the looks of it, the story will serve as Warner Bros. vehicle to reset its cinematic timeline, explaining its shift away from the Zack Snyder approach.
While Peter Parker’s foray with the Multiverse may be over, for now, fans have next year’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on May 6, 2022 to look forward to. If Spidey’s latest adventure didn’t quench the alternate universe thirst, then Benedict Cumberbatch’s next outing will do the trick.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is in theaters worldwide, and The Flash releases on November 4, 2022.